Money On The Sidelines
Llast week, during which the S&P 500 was up 0.9% as the market rebounded off of Tuesday’s lows, BofAML clients were net buyers of $5.6bn of US stocks—the biggest inflow in our data history (since ’08) following five weeks of selling. The last time flows were close to these levels was during the (less extreme) volatility in early January of this year, as well as following the Tech/Biotech sell-off in early 2014 (see chart below). Net buying last week was broad based—while no client group saw record flows relative to its own history, hedge funds, institutional clients and private clients were all big net buyers which led to record inflows when combined.
What both Wall Street in general as well as the Federal Reserve has wrought is a market so adulterated, so anemic, and so mistrusted the euphemistic “money on the sidelines” has more in common with nursery rhymes than it does with anything reality based. There is no money on the sidelines. Nobody wants “in” to this market. Anyone with half a brain and a modicum of common sense wants out – and the outflow numbers show it still to be true.
At the end of every quarter there is a scramble by the financial public to peek at what the biggest hedge fund holdings were as of 45 days ago. And yet, one wonders why: as Goldman notes, "the low dispersion market continues to challenge stock-pickers as the average hedge fund lags the S&P 500 for the seventh straight year (2% vs. 4% YTD)." In fact, even the barbarous relic known as gold has outperformed the average hedge fund YTD. Then again, as we have said since 2012, the only informational value comes not from looking at hedge fund longs, but their biggest shorts, since short squeezes remain perhaps the only source of major outperformance. So for all those curious, here are the biggest hedge fund shorts as of March 31, 2015.
We know, we know... volume doesn't matter... but if "There Is No Alternative" and there is mountains of "money on the sidelines" then why is average trade size plunging (cough algos cough) and volume collapsing in lockstep with each and every new record high in stocks?
Just as AAPL stock hits record highs and single-handedly rescues Q4 earnings from the doldrums, it appears President Obama is bringing his own brand of 'middle-class-economics' Robin-Hood-iness to crush the 'wealth generating' machine that has served America's 1% so well for so long. As AP reports, The White House plans a six-year half a trillion dollar public works program financed with a one-time mandatory tax on profits that U.S. companies have amassed overseas. Under current law, profits only face federal taxes if they are returned, or repatriated, to the US; but Obama's new deal would set a tax on accumulated foreign profits at 14% and due immediately as part of a broader administration plan to overhaul corporate taxes. Of course, with Republicans 'in charge', it is unlikely to pass as Paul Ryan blasted, "the president is trying exploit envy economics again," adding, "top-down redistribution doesn't work."
Frenzied Chinese Stock Buyers Soak Up So Much Liquidity, Central Bank Forced To Intervene, Prevent SeizureSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/18/2014 23:18 -0400
China's seven-day repurchase rate, a gauge of interbank funding availability in the banking system, surged 139 basis points, to a 10-month high of 5.28% in Shanghai, the biggest since Jan. 20. The reason for the sudden cash crunch, according to Bloomberg, is that subscriptions for the biggest new share sales of the year lock up funds. Twelve initial public offerings from today through Dec. 25 will draw orders of as much as 3 trillion yuan ($483 billion), Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Co. estimated. In other words, the scramble to allocate capital into China's surest way of making money, IPOs, has led to a drying out of general liquidity in the entire market. This in turn forced the PBOC to intervene and inject short-term money loans to commercial lenders in order to prevent the kind of interbank liquidity lock up that emerged in China in June 2013 in the aftermath of the first Taper Tantrum (and which before all is said and done, will likely take place again) and which sent global capital markets around the globe reeling before China resumed its massive liquidity injections which are at the heart of China's debt-fuelled bubble in the first place.
Look away... NSFW!!
Back in June, the world was speechless when Goldman's head of the ECB, Mario Draghi, stunned the world when he took Bernanke's ZIRP and raised him one better by announcing the ECB would send deposit rates into negative territory, in the process launching the Neutron bomb known as N(egative)IRP and pushing European monetary policy into the "twilight zone", forcing savers to pay (!) for the privilege of keeping the product of their labor in the form of fiat currency instead of invested in a global ponzi scheme built on capital market so broken even the BIS can no longer contain its shocked amazement. Well, the US economy may be "decoupling" (just as it did right before Lehman) and one pundit after another are once again (incorrectly) predicting that the Fed may raise rates, but when it comes to the true "value" of money, US banks have just shown that when it comes to spread between reality and the economic outlook, the schism has never been deeper.
Enter US NIRP.
While the saying "cash on the sidelines" is patently wrong as all cash represents is a form of risk, asset and liquidity preference (and yes, for every buyer of stock there is a seller: repeat as many times as necessary until it clicks), we are confident the fact that the world's record number of billionaires, 2,325 in 2014 up from 2,170 a year ago, holding a record $7,291 trillion in assets or a little under half of the US GDP, have a record $600 million in cash on average, up from $540 million the year before.
It appears today's weakness in stocks (most notably high-beta momo) and bonds (HY credit weakness) was triggered by two "ma"s - grandma Yellen and grand-poohbah BABA's Ma. Hawkish FOMC concerns took the shine off HY credit (and stocks) but Treasury bonds rallied modestly (5Y -3bps, 10Y -2bps). However, high-beta momo stocks dragged Nasdaq and Russell lower as 'smart money' proclaimed this was making room for the Alibaba IPO (which raises the question - if there is so much pent-up demand money on the sidelines just dying to be lost in the stock market, then why were so many high-beta, high-growth, momo names being sold today, theoretically in order to make room for the BABA IPO?) The USDollar ended marginally higher (GBP weakness, EUR strength) but most commodities gained on the day (Copper down on China) with WTI back to $93. Stocks did have a mini-melt-up on absolutely no news whatsoever into the last hour but gave most back. The Russell 2000 is -0.5% in 2014.
If last week's disappointing global economic data, that saw Brazil added to the list of countries returning to outright recession as Europe Hamletically debates whether to be or not to be in a triple-dip, was enough to push the S&P solidly above 2000, even if on a few hundreds ES contracts (traded almost exclusively between central banks), then the overnight massacre of global manufacturing PMIs - when not one but both Chinese PMIs missed spurring calls for "more easing" and pushing the SHCOMP up 0.83% to 2,235.5 - should see the S&P cross Goldman's revised year end target of 2050 (up from 1900) sometime by Thursday (on another few hundreds ES contracts).
Yesterday, as the S&P closed above 2,000 for the first time, mainstream media pundits were trotted out to proclaim that either "stocks are 'fairly' valued" or "stocks are cheap" and the "money on the sidelines" must come in now. Aside from the 'idiocy' of the last comment, we thought BMO's Jack Ablin's comments were of note. "Valuation is the market’s biggest headwind,” he wrote, adding that sales “have to catch up” for stocks to sustain the rally. One glimpse at the following chart and it is clear that not only are stocks "not cheap" or "not fair" they are extremely rich with the only fall-back now being that "they're not as expensive as they were at the top of the biggest bubble in stocks ever." Seems like BTFATH makes perfect sense in that light...
The arrogance, hubris and contempt for morality displayed by the ruling class is breathtaking to behold. They think they are untouchable and impervious to norms followed by the rest of society. They may have won the opening battle, but will lose the war. Discontent among the masses grows by the day. The critical thinking citizens are growing restless and angry. They are beginning to grasp the true enemy. The system has been captured by a few malevolent men. When the stock, bond and housing bubbles all implode simultaneously, all hell will break loose in this country. It will make Ferguson, Missouri look like a walk in the park.
With the 2014 calendar nearly half way done, and the macro hedge fund community not only underperforming the S&P 500 for the 6th year in a row, but generating a negative return YTD, what is a macro hedge fund universe to do? Why lose all pretense of being sophisticated fundamental trend pickers and do what Bernanke and Yellen have been forcing everyone to do from day one: go all in stocks of course! According to JPM as of this moment there is no difference in the positioning of both traditional long/short hedge funds and macro funds, both of which have increased their equity exposure to the highest since May 2011!